Landmark human rights ruling allows asylum mother to remain in UK

Date: 7th February 2011
Category: Refugee , migrant and asylum-seeking children

Supreme court says deporting woman who lied on asylum application would infringe rights of her British children. Immigration authorities will have to listen to the views of children whose parents are facing deportation, the supreme court has said, in a landmark human rights ruling on the rights of children born to illegal immigrants.

In a case brought by a Tanzanian woman whose asylum claims had failed, the court ruled today that her two British children, aged 9 and 12, were entitled to remain in the UK and have relationships with both their parents. They upheld her appeal and allowed her to stay in the country.

The woman, known as ZH, had previously failed to argue she should be allowed to remain in the UK after she made fraudulent asylum claims, posing as a Somali on two occasions. Despite describing her immigration history as appalling the court said the children - whose father was British - should not be held responsible for their parents' shortcomings.

"[These] are British children, they are British, not just through the 'accident' of being born here, but by descent from a British parent; they have an unqualified right of abode here," said Baroness Hale, delivering the court's leading judgment.

"They have lived here all their lives; they are being educated here; they have other social links with the community here; they have a good relationship with the father here. It is not enough to say that a young child may readily adapt to life in another country. These children were innocent of their parents' shortcomings."

The children, known as T and J, were British citizens but would have had to leave the UK to continue living with their mother, or face separation from her to remain in the country with their British father, who has HIV and alcohol problems.

The case, which expands the law on the human rights of British children whose parents face removal, also delivered a stark warning to immigration authorities to change their approach to dealing with young people.